The Skeleton Rises
On the nightstand, the water glass sweats.
She’d take a sip, but the ice has already melted.
The fan shakes and shakes its head; she’s sick
to death of the vacillating, the constant negative,
the trickle. In a room exposed to the east,
she lays on a bed stripped of sheets and tries not to think
of bones, yet the skeleton rises, shows its white self, pressing
from the inside outward against the skin—is it possible
that her skin’s really that thin?--she can’t help
but stare at her knuckles as she tries to read a poem by Emily.
She tries not to breathe, less a conscious holding of breath
than a forgetting of the lungs’ mechanics. She tries not to think
of her body, this strange machine beyond her control,
this engine that runs and runs despite the obvious absence
of soul. It is the fan, not a fly that buzzes. She can’t bear
the heat despite having bared every inch of pale
skin; a rivulet crawls down the back of her neck
like a spider. She shakes her left leg to wake the comatose
extremity, but the foot refuses to be roused; the sole dreams
of walking away. Again, it is not a fly that buzzes.
Surely she is dead and this is hell. Light peers through the shade,
lasers its way through the mote-filled dark and lands
on her wrist where the skin is so thin it’s translucent
and veins squirm like worms barely contained just below
the surface. Even with this eastern exposure, she’s never
seen one of these sun rises. The summer stretches out
like a yawn that won’t shut its mouth, longer
than any unrequited longing she’s ever felt.
She doesn’t flinch when the fly alights on her screen.